body language | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently - 2/6/24


When I’m watching television, listening to the radio, or listening to a podcast, it’s always interesting when the topic moves to the question:  How can you be a success?  The speakers often discuss the process of becoming a success with the assumption that people believe success is defined by Read more

Care Enough to Give Them a Heads Up - 1/30/24


Nothing bad at all might happen.  Every day in the office could seem like every other day.  Sights and sounds and smells might continue to be the same.  But we have a lot of construction going on around our offices, and the building manager knows the type of work Read more

Be Better than AI Customer Service - 1/23/24


There was a recent CBS Sunday Morning Show story called: How artificial intelligence is revamping customer call centers. The journalist described how artificial intelligence is being used in customer service, and he noted the millions of pieces of information that can be processed in a matter of seconds. There are clear Read more

Recognize the Situation, and Pivot - 1/16/24


The customer has a complaint, or they may have an important question about an order or their account.  You may be talking to them in an emergency room, in the lobby of the government building, on the phone, or in a video conversation.  And in many of these Moments Read more

Sharpen Your Service Delivery - 1/9/24


You work so hard at being responsive and providing high quality information.  You work hard at fixing problems.  But is your delivery…dull? I’m not saying that it has to be exciting, but let’s think of the word “exciting.”  It means that something’s interesting, has energy, is positive.  Just by its Read more

Make Empathy Your Superpower - 1/2/24


I was facilitating a Service Excellence Training class for a Higher Ed client in the Northeast several years back.  As I was walking through the portions of our technique for defusing the angry customer, I talked about empathy.  I talked about accepting responsibility. Immediately, one of the hands in the Read more

Holiday Poem 2023 - 12/26/23


The days are getting longer, The skies are getting brighter. Festivities behind us, And festivities before us.   There’s ups and downs and change coming, And we can’t predict when or where. There’s challenges and joys and opportunities around, Of which you may or may not be aware.   But one thing we know as we look at each Read more

Refresh, Rejuvenate, Refocus - 12/19/23


It’s that time of year.  We’re going 100 miles an hour, and holiday time is upon us.  We not only have all the work to do, but we somehow have less time to do it.  We somehow have other things that are of competing interest, and even though those Read more

De-escalating Conflict in Customer Service – 4/25/23

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

Conflict can be very healthy and productive.  You and your customer are taking different perspectives, but if you have the same goal and you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, the different perspectives may lead to an interesting approach or a mutually-beneficial solution.

If the decision was up to us, we might have one solution.  If the decision was up to the customer, they might have a second solution – and neither solution may work for the other.  But maybe there’s a 3rd or 4th or 5th solution – some of which may be workable for both.  Those solutions are determined through Healthy Conflict – leveraging the different perspectives and opinions to get to collective solutions.

Perspectives v. Positions

Where differences exist, conflict is often uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, when people have different perspectives, they can turn into different positions.  And when we start focusing on our position, that’s when our negative passions can rise, and the conversation can become personal.  It can overshadow the main issue or what potential solutions may exist for the situation.

Healthy Conflict v. Combat

So here are some ways to de-escalate conflict so it doesn’t become combat:

Avoid You: Focus on the specific issue, trying to talk less about the people involved and talk more about the process, the policy, the product, the facility.  Avoid the use of the word You to avoid making things personal, and try not to take comments too personally.

Set the Goal: Identify a common goal – even if it’s somewhat general.  It’s easier to determine a common solution if you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish in the end.

Be Self-aware: Be cognizant of tone and body language as you’re sharing the words, as these affect the emotions as much or more than what is actually being said.

Empathize: Get on the same side of the table with them, even literally at times.  Provide empathy, conveying some understanding of their perspective, asking questions and listening rather than interrupting or talking over the other person.

As we’ve often said, it’s much easier and quicker to deal with issues if negative emotion is not involved.

Deescalate conflict in customer service.

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Being the Emphatic Employee – 9/6/22

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Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often – what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel.

But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how to be emphatic.  There are many times when the customer lacks confidence or clarity, they are uncertain or anxious.  And it is part of our role to build that confidence, convey more clarity, and offer certainty to help overcome the anxiety.

To fulfill that role in our conversation with our customers, we can be emphatic with our words.  For example, it’s more emphatic to say “I will do ABC…” than to say “I think we can do ABC…”   It’s better to say “This will definitely help” than to say “This should help.”

It’s better to give a shorter answer than a longer answer.  It’s better to say “Yes,” then go into the description.  That immediately answers the question, emphatically.  That’s preferable to saying “There are a lot of different factors that come into play and for this particular situation…”  Again, we’re trying to create certainty and clarity.  It’s easier to be clear in a 3-word answer than in a 33-word response where the answer is somewhat hidden in the statement.

To be emphatic, think about more eye contact, more nods.  You’re reaffirming what you’re saying while you’re saying it.  Have body language that is complementary.  Use good posture, have more concise arm and hand movements just like your wording is more concise.

You can be positive while being emphatic to build confidence, convey clarity, and offer certainty to overcome anxiety.

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Signs of Service Recovery Situations – 1/18/22

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As we continue the slow trend of more and more customer interactions becoming in-person again, we need to remember those signs that we’re about to enter one of THOSE conversations.  It can typically take only 5-10 seconds to realize this is going to be a high-risk situation with the customer – where they’re coming in irate, upset, or complaining.

In that short moment-of-truth, your response can trigger their emotion, even if they’re not yet there.  So it’s important to be aware of potential signs of trouble:

  • They have been waiting a long time.
  • They’re looking at their watch.
  • They mention a previous conversation about an issue or unresolved need.
  • They’re LOUD!
  • They say “I expect
  • They state that they’ve been directed to several other employees or departments before you.
  • They use (and often emphasize) words like: problem, issue, mad, upset, angry.

 
It’s at times like these – situations like described above – that our service recovery senses and skills need to kick in.  We need to make sure we’re not making the situation worse with our original response and that we’re immediately focused on listening, empathy, and self-awareness of our body language at that moment-of-truth.

Identify the signs of a need for service recovery.

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